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Rights for Living in Commerical Loft

Posted by Edward Ioffreda on July 02, 1996 at 10:26:35:

I have a friend who is in a rather complicated situation regarding her tenant rights. She has been living in a loft apartment, with a certificate of occupancy for commerical use only, for a period of 6 years. For each of those years, she has signed a commercial loft lease, the landlords knowing full well that she is actually living there with no true commercial activities going on there whatsoever.

In this situation, my questions to you are:

Because of the length of time she has been living there, are the landlords obligated to change the C of O to residencial (or work-live)?

If upon renewal she signs another commercial loft lease (as opposed to a residential), is there a limit to how much the landlord can raise the rent? In other words, since she has truly been living there and it is a loft, can she benefit from the NYC Rent Increase Board's ruling on rent increases for loft spaces (2% first year, 4% the second). The space is not rent-controlled or rent-stabilized. (She is currently faced with a 2-year renewal proposal with a 9% increase the first year and 10% the second. The landlords intend on keeping the space residential, but may be reluctant to shell-out the dough for changing the C of O.)

At this time, she cannot afford the services of a real estate attorney. Regardless, she first wants to know if she has any basis for arguing the landlord's enormous proposed rent increase.

I would appreciate any guidance you can give.

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